Title: Spindle Fire
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date published: April 11, 2017
Page Count: 351
A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.
It all started with the burning of the spindles.
It all started with a curse…
Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.
And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.
As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.
Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.
– MY REVIEW –
“This is no fairy tale” indeed! But before some of you assume that I am meaning those words in a negative way, let me just tell you that I found the dark aspects of this story surprisingly refreshing! I have encountered a number of the older/original fairytales due to having been the teaching assistant for a professor who teaches fairytales at the university level. And the fairytales in their original forms were quite gruesome and definitely not “PG” by today’s standards! There was rape, gore, there was death, blindness, muteness, and loss of limb, …to name just a few. And it is my opinion that the fact that Spindle Fire is YA novel, but kept some of these darker qualities is fantastic!
Another thing which I appreciated about this book was that the amount of time between when characters decided to do something, or go somewhere, and actually doing it does not take very long. Let me explain. I don’t know about you, but I feel unbelievably frustrated when I an author makes me feel excited about something which is supposed to happen in the future of a book, …but then take forever to get us there (for no reason other than filler). I do understand that the quest plot will sometimes have “on the road” portions to the story, and I do like those as long as they are eventful! Again, as long as it’s not filler, it’s great! I’m a mega fan of the high fantasy genre, and love me a good quest. But when nothing is happening, and it’s pages upon pages of description involving the trees and weather,…or rock formations that make the character contemplate the meaning of their existence…I start to lose interest.
Luckily, this was never a problem with Spindle Fire! And another thing which was entirely un-problematic for me, was the world-building. I really liked all of the settings since they were unique and quite entertaining to read about, and really enjoyed the mystery which enshrouds this fantasy world as a whole.
The characters were just as entertaining, and also fleshed out quite well! I liked that there was a focus upon the relationship between the two sisters Aurora and Isabelle, as I am a sister myself and can always appreciate plots which depict the sister-sister relationship very well. The girls’ relationships and interactions with other characters were also quite multifaceted, and interesting to read about! There were some sub-plots involving desire and love, which kept the hopeless romantic in me fairly satisfied, and those portions were also written in a manner which were tasteful, as well as…steamy. There was definitely some quite-tangible chemistry between characters, which is not always present in young adult fiction!
Another thing which I liked was that the faeries, including the “good ones” from the version of the story which we are most familiar with (mainly Disney’s 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty) are a lot more fleshed out. I also liked that the “good” faeries were not quite what we’re normally used to (and I will say no more on that subject in order to avoid spoilers!) There was also more of a focus upon the faeries as a race, what they are about, how they interact, etc. which was quite interesting.
There was just one factor, however, which had me scratching my head a lot of the time though. And it’s that Aurora and Isabelle are mute and blind (respectively). The fact that they were given these characteristics is not the problem, however, (don’t get me wrong! Because I actually love the idea!) There was simply a mild problem I had involving the manner in which these aspects of the two sisters were depicted at times, and I mean more particularly Isabelle’s blindness. I just found it difficult to believe that she was able to accomplish some of the things that she did, while also being unable to see anything. That being said, though, it was not a major issue, and I still thought that it was really cool to have a heroine who is unable to see! Having never read about a heroine who is blind before, I found the idea to be refreshing, as well as just fascinating to read about. I understand that those who lack the sense of sight, usually experience more enhanced other senses which help them interact with the world around them, and I understand that Isabelle may have uses a lot of those senses to do the things she did. I am also aware that it would be quite difficult to depict the point of view of such a character, and you must know that Hillyer therefore has a lot of of my respect.
Overall, I did quite enjoy this book! I found it to be quite good for the first eighty percent, and then found it to be very good for the last twenty! The plot was not very predictable for me, which is always good because I like to be kept on my toes and to be kept guessing. And I will definitely be recommending this book to those who enjoy fairytales, retellings of fairytales, dark-ish fantasy, and constantly-interesting quest plots!
– ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
Other than Spindle Fire, Lexa Hillyer is also the author of Proof of Forever, and the poetry collection Acquainted with the Cold, which won the 2012 Foreword Book of the Year Award’s Gold Prize for Poetry. Hillyer is also the co-founder of creative development company Paper Lantern Lit. Her poetry was anthologized in Best New Poets 2012, and appears in several journals. She lives in Carroll Gardens with her husband, daughter, and a very skinny orange tree. Follow her on instagram @ProofOfLex and twitter @Lexa_Hillyer !
– PURCHASE LINKS –
THANK YOU FOR READING MY REVIEW! HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT DID YOU THINK? AND IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET, DO YOU WANT TO, OR NOT? HOW COME? LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!